I’m not really a music connoisseur, but I am a super fan. I was too young for riot grrl, but I was definitely old enough to appreciate its impact. When I was a teenager, girl power was- as Caitlin Moran so eloquently puts- yet to mean liking your friends and wearing platforms– it was having cool hair (Lush) and writing wry songs (Sleeper). Brit pop was my soundtrack and I loved it. I wanted to be Louise Wener when I grew up. I bought the albums, wore the sambas and was very briefly in a terrible band. We were called Vague. We were terrible. But I never had that all encompassing passion for one band (apart from NKOTB), I liked S Club 7 and Blur equally. That was until I met Le Tigre.
I started listening to Le Tigre on a friend’s recommendation, he’d leant me a Tiga CD and there, nestled in the middle of some electro-clash remixes, was Deceptacon. Reader, I married it.
From that first listen, Le Tigre became my band.I got why people turned into such weirdos when talking about music, the band you love really are talking about your life.
I bought their self-titled first album during my post-uni, pre-life stage. You know the one-a monotonous limbo of miserable temp jobs and ill advised relationships made bearable by a dance at the local indie club on a Saturday and two for one cocktails on a Monday. Or maybe that was just me? Anyway, it was fun-ish. But only for a while. The The Empty reminded me exactly who and where I really wanted to be, and Deceptacon provided a sound track to the best bits of calling in sick on a whim and pursuing ill suited boys.
Around the time I bought Feminist Sweepstakes my feminist thinking had turned into feminist activism. I had moved home and started volunteering at a rape crisis centre, and that album summed up everything I was feeling about the world. I was angry and pissed off. I couldn’t believe the world didn’t care as much as I did about rape or domestic abuse. At least Kathleen understood. FYR and On Guard summed up exactly how I felt about the world at that point; pissed off, yes,but slightly hopeful that despite what I’d thought, it wasn’t actually “you, not the world that’s totally crazy”. There were these super cool women all over the world getting angry and being active;sexism wasn’t just something to rage against. You could actually do something about it. Who’d have thought?
I went to see them in Manchester and it was one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to. They had matching outfits! They did dance routines! They played instruments! It was everything that was right about being a third waver- embracing girl culture but rocking the fuck out. I tried, and failed, to start a feminist dance troupe in my office a few years ago inspired in part by this gig. It had taken me six years to find the perfect group of women to join it, after all who doesn’t like co-ordinated dance routines?!
Oh. Right. Just me then.
So, moving on.. Just after This Island was released, I’d started a long distance relationship and After Dark became my train journey anthem. After I moved, I was part of organising a reclaim the night march, and the march and the friendships I developed around that time had a huge impact on me. For the first time I wasn’t a lone ranting odd ball. There were loads of us! At the post march after party the song that summed up exactly how I felt was of course I’m So Excited. Yay feminism!
I do (clearly) love Le tigre, but I wasn’t a huge fan of This Island when it first came out- a switch of label and it seemed no-one knew how to pitch them- outsider feminist performance artists? Electroish? Straight up pop? The result was slightly off; overproduced and dare I say it, a touch soulless. Now, however, I think it’s bloody marvellous. Like any super fan, after many, many, MANY listens, it of course speaks to me. Of their albums, Le Tigre welcomed me to the world of pissed off women, Feminist Sweepstakes focused that anger and This Island reminded me to still have fun.
Whilst this is an extremely subjective take on one band, they have after all been the soundtrack to my personal politicisation, I would urge all and any of you to give Le Tigre and their side projects Julie Ruin and MEN a good listen (and of course, bikini kill). MEN are just brilliant; it’s like JD Samson got the lyrics of Le Tigre drunk and took them out dancing.
But Le Tigre will always be the band I listen to when some dick politician thinks it’s ok to be misogynist, or when the whole world turns rape apologist. But they’re also the band I’ll listen to when I’m getting ready for a night out and if ever I fancy a dance round the kitchen. In my brief foray into roller derby, they were the band I listened to on my way to practice, no-one says sparkly knickers and fierceness better than Le tigre. After all, if you’re a lady or a f*g, they’re the band with the roller skate jams. Aces.